NAR staffers demand resignation of Bob Goldberg, other leaders | SkipLeadPro

By Ashraful Islam Updated September 23, 2023 Reviewed by Ashraful Islam
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Photo: HousingWire

The National Association of Realtors continues to face demands for change from staffers and members in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations brought forth in the New York Times exposé.

On Thursday, the trade group informed members that it was bringing in a third-party human resources reporting system and a third-party independent law firm to conduct a review of the organization.

These two changes represent two of the four points created by the NAR Accountability Project.

“It has been a pretty amazing week for the NAR Accountability Project,” Jason Haber, the founder of the group, said in a video post on Instagram Thursday evening. “NAR has basically adopted two of our four proposals, whether they want to give us any credit for it, I could care less, but for the last three weeks, we have put out these four points. They have been very public, and so I was delighted to hear today that they are moving forward.”

In an email to NAR staff following Monday’s meeting, obtained by HousingWire, NAR CEO Bob Goldberg wrote that ArentFox Schiff LLP would conduct the independent law review and “make recommendations to improve our procedures, trainings and systems to prevent inappropriate behavior, encourage reporting of alleged misconduct and promote an environment of transparency and accountability.”

Goldberg also noted that Salvatore, Prescott, Porter & Porter LLP will provide internal investigation services to a new Special Committee. The law firm will investigate “harassment, discrimination or misconduct complaints and report back to the Special Committee with findings and/or suggested remedial actions, as appropriate,” Goldberg wrote.

These two changes were also proposed in an anonymous letter from NAR staffers, presented by NAR Regional Vice President Shannon King during a committee meeting on Monday.

“We represent all levels of management, in both D.C. and Chicago,” the letter, which was first reported on by Inman News, states. “We are men and women, some tenured and some new to NAR. The one thing we all have in common is our belief that change cannot happen, and healing will not begin until there is accountability for those who allowed NAR to get to the place it is today.”

In addition to calling for an outside HR system and legal review, the letter’s authors also demanded the resignation or dismissal of Goldberg, President Tracy Kasper, Chief Legal Officer Katie Johnson and Head of HR Donna Gland.

“All we want, and all we have ever asked, is to be allowed to do our jobs, in a respectful, healthy, and productive environment,” the letter reads. “That has not happened, and our leadership has failed us.”

The letter states that if any or all of the leaders must remain at NAR to deal with the impending buyer broker commission lawsuits, the authors ask that they are retained for that purpose only “with no leadership or staff management responsibilities, nor role in the selection or hiring of the new CEO” or the new chief marketing and communications officer.

While the trade group searches for a new CEO, the authors ask that John Pierpoint, NAR’s current chief financial officer, be appointed interim CEO. Goldberg, the trade group’s current CEO, is currently set to retire at the end of 2024, closing out his 30-year career at NAR.

Of the executives named in the letter, Tracy Kasper is the newest executive team member, assuming the presidency in late August, hours after former NAR president Kenny Parcell resigned due to the allegations in the Times story. Despite her brief tenure, the letter claims that Kasper is “a primary contributor to the hostile work environment. We hear Tracy, and we also ask ourselves how she ‘missed it.’”

“The truth, however, is she didn’t. Nor did those internal leaders who are in positions of power that did nothing to protect staff, namely Bob Goldberg, Donna Gland and Katie Johnson,” the letter continues on to say. “And while Tracy shames the individual(s) who leaked an internal memo and those who expose(d) its contents — versus those who tried to bury it but got caught — keep in mind that the only reason that memo exists is because staff had no one they could go to whom they trusted in TDR [Talent Development and Resources], Legal, nor our CEO.”

The letter also addresses a separate letter from Denise Drake, an attorney at Polsinelli Law Firm, to Goldberg dated July 14, 2023. Drake’s letter casts doubt on NAR’s timeline and commitment to cleaning up a toxic culture.

In their letter to NAR, the anonymous staffers wrote that the content of Drake’s letter was “disheartening.”

“They protected the abusers, while staff was directed to create strategies to ‘get to yes’ and deliver on the outrageous demands of member leaders,” the letter reads. “We were counseled on how to ‘be liked’ by the LT [Leadership Team] — the epitome of success at NAR, not actual job performance. And told ‘just do what they want,’ this is what it’s like to work for a member organization and, if we didn’t like it, we could leave.”

“We are tired of watching our talented teammates walk out the door,” the letter continued on to say. “We are tired of being patronized with empty promises and insincere apologies. The buck has to stop somewhere.”

In an email, a NAR spokesperson said the trade group was working to create a safer environment: “NAR’s leadership is committed to taking concrete actions to strengthen our organization and promote an environment where everyone feels safe, supported and empowered to do their best work. We’re thankful for the dedication and commitment of our staff and members as we work to move forward and continue to advance our mission.”

On Instagram, Haber said the next goal of the NAR Accountability Project is to release women from non-trade secret NDAs.

“Women who have stories to tell should be allowed to speak now,” he said in the video. “There is no reason for the delay. It is a very important point for us and for all those that we’ve been working with.”

This story was updated to include commentary from NAR as well as details from Bob Goldberg’s email to staff.

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